Culture of innovation – What is key to becoming a leader in innovation?

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and Samsung are some of the world’s largest organisations. They are widely believed to hire top talent, offer the most interesting jobs and develop unique, useful and user-friendly products and services. What is key to becoming a leader in innovation? – explains Wojciech Krupa, Head of Workplace Strategy, SMART M2.

IT and technology sectors are usually thought to be at the forefront of innovation. And indeed, they are innovation-driven when it comes to service and product development.

Today, however, innovation is required in nearly every job, be it in arts or science. Creativity can give added value to both a company and clients, thereby delivering tangible profits. But first things first: where is innovation born? According to Tim Brown, CEO at IDEO, a company whose corporate culture is based on play and idea-testing is likely to achieve much greater creativity and employee involvement in daily performance.

Creating such a working environment could therefore be worth the effort. This would necessarily require building an organisation where employees are practically free to choose on a daily basis where they work. Research shows that 79% of ideas are born away from the desk as a result of interaction with fellow employees. Unfortunately, enclosed private offices that tend to hamper cooperation between teams are still prevalent across many firms. However, when people confined to small rooms are given a free hand and a space in which to put their ideas to test, to think unconventionally or make mistakes, business managers will often see more personal involvement and stronger commitment to skills development – a space is thus created to build a culture of innovation.

Modern technologies support organisations. These will include remote work, shared desks and the unlimited freedom to decide working hours. Albert Einstein, for instance, is believed to have been pondering over his theory of relativity while cycling – definitely a non-office setting. This shows that even grand theories may be born in rather unusual or seemingly unlikely circumstances.

This may also apply to placing multiple-generation employees in a single office, which is sometimes feared to be ineffective or even destructive to teams and innovativeness. However, according to the concept of Design Thinking, the best ideas are born when teams are at their most diverse in terms of both expertise, age and personal background.

Innovation can also be driven by an appropriate workspace layout. Organisations focusing on developing a workplace strategy and treating a working environment as a strategic business tool create office spaces not only for operational needs, but primarily to provide spaces that nurture creativity. Through this approach, they are able to enhance profits, improve their corporate image and recruit top talent.

Warsaw, 18 April 2018